July 1, 2013
When The Water Calls ... We Follow


June 20, 2013
New Adventures


May 31, 2013
Storing Our Shiny Red Tug


May 13, 2013
Viva La Difference


May 6, 2013
Swinging Free & Easy


April 15, 2013
In The Middle


March 29, 2013
On The Hook


March 18, 2013
Tinker Time


February 28, 2013
Jumping Into the Mix


February 15, 2013
Time Travel


February 6, 2013
Charlevoix - A Small Town With A World-Class Reputation


January 15, 2013
The Perfect Ending


January 1, 2013
Magical Weather & Mysterious Ports


December 15, 2012
Collins Inlet, Killarney, & Little Current


December 1, 2012
New Neighbors


November 16, 2012
What Makes a Perfect Anchorage?


November 1, 2012
Are We There Yet?


October 15, 2012
CHANGE OF LATITUDE


October 1, 2012
Womens Roundtable


September 15, 2012
Freedom to Discover a Southern Gem


September 1, 2012
Promises


August 15, 2012
Nice to Have Options


August 1, 2012
Go West!


July 15, 2012
The Perfect Boating Vacation Destination


July 1, 2012
Propane


June 15, 2012
Flagler’s Folly


June 1, 2012
Everglades Detour


May 15, 2012
Making New Friends


May 1, 2012
Something Old and Something New


April 15, 2012
Florida’s Wide Open West Coast


April 1, 2012
Life On the Water in a Trailerable Trawler


March 15, 2012
Becoming Second Nature


March 1, 2012
Last Dance


February 15, 2012
Call it Romance or Mystique


February 1, 2012
Natural Wonders Abound


January 15, 2012
Hardly a Care in the World


January 1, 2012
Wide-Eyed Anticipation


December 15, 2011
Winding Our Way to Lake Powell


December 1, 2011
On to New Cruising Grounds


November 15, 2011
Sharing the Love


November 1, 2011
On the Water Again


October 14, 2011
First Impressions


October 3, 2011
Possession is Nine-Tenths of the Fun


September 15, 2011
Getting the Show on the Road


September 1, 2011
Lets Dance!


August 15, 2011
Getting Our Ducks in a Row


August 1, 2011
Summer Without a Boat


July 15, 2011
The Water and The Boater Home


July 1, 2011
One Step Closer


June 15, 2011
Time Keeps on slippin’ Into the Future


June 1, 2011
Made in the USA


May 15, 2011
Making the Right Truck Choice


May 1, 2011
Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder


April 15, 2011
What Goes Around Comes Around


April 1, 2011
Wishing Star Interlude


March 15, 2011
Helping Hands


March 1, 2011
THE PERFECT BOAT!


February 15, 2011
Weighing the Options


February 1, 2011
Making a List, Checking it Twice!


January 14, 2011
The Science of Towing


December 30, 2010
The Upside of Downsizing


December 15, 2010
The New Plan!


December 1, 2010
Homeward Bound-The Final Leg


November 15, 2010
Somethings In The Water


November 1, 2010
Our Turn to Relax & Smile


October 15, 2010
Gem in the Rough


October 1, 2010
Whats Your Favorite Place on the Loop?


September 15, 2010
Reflecting Pool


September 1, 2010
Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder


August 15, 2010
Canadian Wonderland


August 1, 2010
"Low Bridge, Everybody Down"


July 15, 2010
One Day At A Time


July 1, 2010
Decisions, Decisions, Decisions!


June 15, 2010
Lets All Do the Rendezvous


June 1, 2010
On the Hard


May 15, 2010
Falling in Love With Key West


May 1, 2010
Helping Women Get On Board


April 15, 2010
Key West - A Repeat Performance


April 1, 2010
Unexpected Pleasures


March 15, 2010
Mom Cruise


March 1, 2010
Okeechobee Bound


February 15, 2010
Chance Encounters


February 1, 2010
Three Nights in Paradise


January 15, 2010
New Frontiers


January 1, 2010
First Time Experiences


December 15, 2009
A Friend In Every Port


December 1, 2009
Dealing With A Temperamental Lady


November 18, 2009
You Say Goodbye, I Say Hello


November 13, 2009
A Cult Following


October 15, 2009
Somewhere in Time


October 1, 2009
Unlocking Our Minds Eye


September 18, 2009
Its In My Nature


August 15, 2009
The RBS Antidote


August 1, 2009
Crab Crazy


July 15, 2009
Sights And Sounds Of The Bay


July 15, 2009
Sights And Sounds Of The Bay


June 15, 2009
Our Last Leg North


June 1, 2009
Northern Migration


May 15, 2009
Priceless


May 1, 2009
Hello Goodbye


April 15, 2009
Let The Sun Shine In!


April 1, 2009
Dont Worry, Be Happy


March 15, 2009
Bahama Bound


March 1, 2009
What Do You Do All Day?


February 15, 2009
Slow Motion


February 1, 2009
On The Hook With A Million-Dollar View


January 15, 2009
High Anxiety


January 1, 2009
A String Of One-Night Stands


December 15, 2008
Pushing Into New Tennessee River, Upstream To Adventure


December 1, 2008
All Together Now


November 15, 2008
Kismet in the Aftermath of Hurricane Ike


October 31, 2008
Our Love Affair With The River


October 16, 2008
Big City Lights


October 1, 2008
The Adventure Begins


September 15, 2008
Prepping For The Loop


September 1, 2008
The Space Ship


August 15, 2008
Jumping Aboard In Seattle


August 1, 2008
If We Knew Then What We Know Now!


July 10, 2008
The Second Time Around


July 1, 2008
Our Turn For The Great American Loop

   

One Step Closer
By Kismet, Friday, July 1, 2011

The post date for this BoatUS log is July 1. On, or around, this date the production of our Ranger Tug R-27 will be starting, which will bring Lisa and I one step closer to some new boating adventures – this time by trailerable trawler. By the time we take our first cruise in Washington State’s Puget Sound, around the third week of August, it will have been almost 1.5 years since we closed out our five-year live-aboard lifestyle. The 18 months we’ve spent off of the water have been very rewarding and have enriched our lives; much like the five years we spent cruising. We’ve reconnected with family, friends, and our community in our hometown of Traverse City, Michigan; I wouldn’t have changed a thing – but wait, this is only one part of the new equation!

Hoses, wires and harnesses everywhere and they all serve a purpose on this almost complete interior liner.

Our Master Plan, the one we’re one step closer to accomplishing, was put into place 1.5 years ago and included several steps. First, we planned to move away from being full-time live-aboards, sell our 40’ trawler, buy a house, and move onto land. After some in-depth research, we decided to buy a trailerable trawler and a tow vehicle. In today’s economy, we had no idea if this project would take six months or six years and we certainly didn’t expect to do it all at once, we had to follow some sort of chronological financial order. The house was easy; in that we found what we wanted and it was a buyers market – step one complete.

We put the 40’ boat up for sale with the thought that if it didn’t sell we would return to cruising during the winter months until we had a buyer. As luck would have it, we sold it within six months. This was a big hurdle to overcome and it allowed us to move forward in earnest on our master plan. So, step two was rather quickly completed, except for the little boat we took in on trade. I guess that’s like taking two steps forward and one little step back!

With the 40’ boat sold and house purchased we moved into what I would call phase three of our new plan. We had already been researching trailerable boats but things became serious now, as we were almost boat less (we still had the little 1986 Shamrock trade-in to sell). After several months of research, we decided the best boat for our new trailerable trawler exploits would be the well-appointed Ranger Tug R27. We placed an order for the R27, with a production completion date set for mid August.

With step three implemented, we moved on to finding the proper tow vehicle and decided on the 3/4 ton HD GMC Sierra. With the purchase of the GMC and selling of our 11-year-old F150 this meant step four and five were checked off of our Master Plan list.

As I’m writing this log the 1986 Shamrock finally sold. The sale of this trade-in boat officially made us “boat less” for the first time in over 19 years. With step six behind us, we could begin implementing our new boating plans; it’s almost time to reap the benefits of the Master Plan we set into motion 1.5 years ago. Except this time instead of being live-aboards, our new and improved Master Plan calls for us to live in our hometown eight months of the year and experience the flexible trailerable trawler lifestyle during the remaining months. We’d like to see more of the country and with a trailerable boat; we feel we’ll be able to see more with less redundancy. Let the fun begin.

Our vision of moving to a trailerable trawler boating lifestyle is now almost complete. With step three implemented (the ordering of the R27), all that needs to be accomplished is the actual production of the boat before our adventures begin in earnest. So, with that thought in mind I called Jeff Messmer, Ranger Tugs V-President of Sales and Marketing, to talk about their construction process.

Having recently toured the GM Flint Assembly Plant, where we learned it takes 17.5 hours to build an HD GMC Sierra pickup truck, I was curious to find out about Ranger Tugs production time. Jeff informed me the build time averages six weeks from the time they spray the molds with gel coat until it becomes a boat and is dropped into the water for its inaugural sea trial. With that said, there is a tremendous amount that needs to be coordinated prior to the start date. Jeff explained that they require as much as three to four months of lead-time for some of the parts and equipment that gets installed on the Ranger Tugs, such as the generator and windows.

After they’ve coordinated all of the parts needed for a boat’s production, the first step is to create the fiberglass parts. Ranger Tugs has molds for each component of a boat, including the hull, deck, interior liner, stringer system, eyebrows, hatches, hardtop and more. All the various parts are created at the same time and the process is similar for each one with the hull being the most important. Jeff explained that they start by taping off a boot stripe inside of the mold before they spray the hull with the gel coat color (in our case it will be red). The tape is taken off and the boot stripe is then sprayed, making for a smooth, seamless appearance when you look down the side of the hull. The next step taken on the hull is adding a 3 oz layer of fiberglass matting. This keeps the alternating layers of 24 oz woven roving that are added next, from showing through the gel coat, giving all Ranger Tugs their Bristol finish. The woven roving is impregnated with Vinyl Ester resin for superior blister prevention, better durability and a stronger hull.

As the hull is being created so is the single piece stringer system. After the hull is finished, and within 24 to 48 hours of completion, the stringer system is chemically bonded to the interior of the hull; this bonding essentially makes the two parts become one. Jeff went on to state that the hull remains inside the mold for up to one week before it is extracted. Ranger Tugs wants to make sure the fiberglass has enough time to cure so their boats have the best looking quality finish along with a more structurally sound hull.

Although there are many individually molded fiberglass boat pieces, Jeff explained to me that there are really three key major components that require the greatest amount of assembly. The hull, interior liner and the deck are the three components that are worked on independent of each other by teams dedicated to specific tasks. The hull has a team that installs the Yanmar diesel engine and driveline, genset and everything else that sits down and around the stringers. In addition, hardware such as cleats, swim platform, thrusters, lights and cutouts for fittings are all done at this time.

This is a deck component in the process of having its windows installed.

The interior liner, another of the three major components, goes from the cockpit up to the stateroom. As the name implies, interior liner, the concentration here is on what goes inside of the cabin and cockpit. Different teams install the stove, air units (if so equipped), cabinets, galley refrigerator and sink, electric panel and the list goes on and on. I am wondering how on earth do they do all this in six weeks?

The third major component would be the deck. The deck would have door, window and hatch openings cut out for their respective installations. Hatches, railings, eyebrows, stack, racks and windlass are installed along with running lights, masts, antennas and electronics antennas.

Each major component has wire harnesses, wire and or water lines attached or installed that are pertinent to the component. Jeff told me that after the three major components are completed, each boat is only three working days from being finished. It’s during this three-day final assembly process that the completed interior liner is first lowered into the hull to be secured then topped off with the marriage of the deck component to the top lip of the hull. It’s now becoming very evident that all the time-consuming, pain-staking tasks of making parts and components are going to result in a boat!

Here you’ll see how convenient it is for engine and driveline installation, before the liner and deck are put into place.

Once the three majors are assembled and married to each other the Ranger Tugs staff attends to the final details of rub rail installation, quality control adjustments and inspections. The final step will be to sea trial the boat so the technicians can check the engine for proper balance and make any adjustments in order to insure the smoothest and most efficient propulsion results. It’s also during this time period that the thrusters, genset, stove, plumbing system are all quality control tested for proper functionality.

Cockpit/transom view of this soon to be completed deck.

Over the next six weeks, Lisa and I will be inching “one step closer,” to realizing our new trailerable trawler boating lifestyle. If you’ve often read our logs you already know how passionate we are about boating and being “boat less” is just not our style – it will be exhilarating to get back onto the water, starting in Seattle’s Puget Sound, in August.